Month: December 2018

I have gotten in trouble for a sermon once.  When I say ‘in trouble’, I don’t mean that someone had a question or wanted to have a conversation about something that they disagreed with.  When I say ‘in trouble’, I mean that I was pulled aside after the service and given a lecture about how what I preached was dangerous and wrong.  I have gotten in trouble for a sermon once. And it was a children’s sermon. Now, what I had said to the kids was that you don’t need permission to do good. You don’t need permission to…
God loved the world like this: In the days when Israel was ruled by Rome, God sent an angel to a young woman named Mary, who was engaged to a man named Joseph, and that angel said, You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end….
Merry Christmas, everybody! I know that things have been a little slow around the blog lately. Part of that is just the busy-ness of my first Advent season as a pastor. Part of that is that I’ve been focused on other extracurricular projects lately. And, while my New Year’s resolutions are almost always doomed to failure, I hope to get back to regular posting soon. In the meantime, let me leave you with a quote from a few Christmases ago. It’s one of my favorite Chesterton quotes, and a sentiment that I think gets to the core of the…
Right after I graduated from seminary, a lot of my friends began their first calls at their first churches. And that meant that, for the first time, they had to preach… every week. And if you’ve never had to preach a sermon every week, then you might not know that preparing a sermon is a lot of work. You have to read the scripture, and think about it, and maybe do some research on it. You have to come up with stories and examples, which can mean more research. You have to figure out what jokes you’re going to…
One of the things that compelled me to write Radical Charity is that I kept seeing two narratives about charity. On the one hand, there were the charity skeptics, arguing that charity and welfare hurt their recipients. These skeptics argue that doing for others what they could (or should) do for themselves erodes work ethics, fosters a sense of entitlement, and contributes to the dependency of the people who get assistance. On the other hand, there were researchers in a variety of fields studying the actual effects of charitable giving and welfare programs. And these researchers were discovering that when…
Today is the second Sunday of Advent. And today, we hear a part of a story that we don’t hear very often. There was this priest, Zechariah, and his wife, Elizabeth. They were righteous before the Lord. And, like so many people in the Bible, they were old and they were childless. And, one day, an angel appeared before Zechariah and said to him, “Elizabeth will bear a son and you will name him John… and he will prepare the people for the Lord.” And, like so many people in the Bible who are old and childless, when they…
It is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a strange season. On the one hand, we’re looking forward to Christmas. In the church, we decorate the building, we make cookies for people who can’t be with us regularly, we prepare for the children’s Christmas program, we sing a handful of carols, and we give to the Referral Center. We are getting ready for the birth of our savior… in a stable… two thousand years ago. And, of course, outside of the church, we’re really looking forward to Christmas. People put up decorations everywhere: wreaths on city lampposts, lights…

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